This week is the first of a two week school holiday in Victoria, Australia and no doubt it will highlight the ongoing quest for freedom. Part of growing up is an increased independence which might look like
- the ability to go to town on their own or with a group of friends
- to stay home alone during the day
- to have friends round whilst parents are at work
- to dramatically extend the time when they can return home or go to bed
Of course these discussions are an ongoing part of parenting but they are brought into sharper focus during school holidays. Partly because the mantra ‘you have school tomorrow’ doesn’t apply and also because many parents are unable to take time off work every school holiday. So, on a purely practical basis, some additional freedom needs to be offered.
Depending on your relationship (and their age) will determine both the outcome and the nature of the discussion/negotiation. I will never presume to tell any parent what to do or where they should draw their own family line, but here are a few things to consider.
- maybe this is a good time to relax a little and allow some additional space
- it can be an opportunity to have a trial run to observe how they will react
- responsibility is best learnt through trial and error and it is unlikely they will push the boundaries way beyond your limits
- the whole idea will open up a chance to discuss the issues of responsibility, growing up, boundaries etc
Talk to other parents with similar aged children, or those with slightly older ones, and ask them how things worked for them. How old were their children when they left them alone all day, when they went to town unaccompanied, when they made their own lunch, when they had friends round.
Talk to your son or daughter about your concerns, ask them to show you respect as you allow them to do more things.
Go on – take the risk and show them your trust!